May 22, 2003

Complexities Aplenty in Kirkuk Why

Complexities Aplenty in Kirkuk

Why will the reconstruction be so tricky and often perilous?

For one thing, de-Baathification is a much more complex task than some may have surmised:

"Mijbeel Issa considered himself the go-to Arab for U.S. occupation forces in Kirkuk. A lawyers who favors wide, florid neckties and likes to be called "Dr. Mijbeel," he was a power-sheik in a suit. He had an office in city hall and a seat on the U.S.-sponsored interim governing council, and was gearing up to run for mayor this weekend.

One problem: After three weeks of sharing briefings on security, finance and reconstruction, U.S. authorities discovered Issa had been a senior Baath Party leader during the government of fallen president Saddam Hussein. So he was led out of city hall today in plastic handcuffs, headed for an interrogation room at a nearby U.S. military base."

Meanwhile, ambushes aimed at U.S. troops have taken place as recently as Sunday:

"On Sunday, 400 U.S. soldiers, accompanied by M1 Abrams tanks and M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, swept into nearby Hawijah to search for Baathists, criminals and weapons caches. As they approached the town, they were ambushed, and U.S. military officials here described what followed as "an intense, focused, organized and sustained firefight" that lasted 45 minutes.

At least 16 of the attackers were killed and one U.S. soldier was wounded, they said."

An Army Major on the ground sums up the scale of the challenges:

It was kind of ironic," said Army Maj. Robert Gowan of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of the Army's 4th Infantry Division, was giving a speech at city hall, complimenting residents on their cooperation and progress. "He is talking about peace, and you hear 'Bang, bang, bang!' " Gowan said. "He's talking about the electricity being on. And the lights go out."

Meanwhile, Kurdish groups are outraged by U.S. treatment of some of the "oil for food" funds.

And Jim Hoagland discusses "catastrophic success."

Posted by Gregory at May 22, 2003 08:42 AM
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